Purposeful talent development: You can learn from anyone, including Oprah

CUES Learning Portal is a great place to reflect on educational content and have a dialog with your colleagues about it.

At the 2019 Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition that was attended by more than 13,000 people in May, the room was full for one of the conference keynotes, Oprah Winfrey. I was excited to hear this well-known persona present. But I confess I also was asking myself what exactly Oprah was going to share that would be useful to talent development professionals from around the world.

Hearing her speak reminded me that we can learn from anyone—and especially someone so capable—regardless of their experience or specialty. Hearing her speak also reminded me of the importance of reflecting on our learning.

Oprah has not made a career of talent development but, as she shared some of her experiences, I was able to draw connections to my own professional world. For example, Oprah is often asked to make charitable donations of time and money. She shared her belief that you cannot just give to a cause or individual and expect it to have an impact. To have impact, there must be a plan for the donation—and a willingness to change.

I couldn’t help but think of how this relates to talent development. Within our organizations we promote individuals, giving them new responsibilities and titles. We promote strong individual contributors to be first-time leaders or mid-level leaders to strategic leadership positions—many times without a plan in place to make that transition a long-term success.


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